The greatest sin against Jerusalem was committed in the Oslo interim agreement, which postponed the city's fate to the final stage of negotiations. In the twenty intervening years the occupation has been racing against time and increasing settlements, such that Jerusalem would be removed from any future agreements. These settlements were expressed not only through the Apartheid Wall and external belts of settlements in East Jerusalem, but also the establishment of settlements in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods, transforming Jerusalem's Palestinian population into scattered islands in a vast, Jewish ocean.
Following Israel's raging war against Jerusalem and Jerusalemites, Palestinians hoped the Palestinian Authority would turn to international institutions, in particular by ratifying the Rome Statute and joining the International Criminal Court, in order to punish the occupation's crimes and violations against Palestinian residents of the city, including settlements, deportation and expulsion.
After the failure of negotiations, the Palestinian Authority procrastinated and delayed, betting on negotiations before heading to the UN Security Council. The draft resolution submitted by the Palestinian Authority to the Security Council was open to amendments, such that the door was left open for modifications, additions and changes, while no time limit for this process was set.
The amendments to the draft resolution advanced by the PA, all in order to bypass the American veto and get the necessary nine votes, include substantial concessions which touch and hollow out the core issues of the Palestinian liberation struggle. The draft resolution has been transformed into a replica of the French draft submitted on behalf of the European Union, reflecting a state of panic and fear amongst Palestinians.
The Palestinian national position refers to East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, while the amended draft talks about Jerusalem as a joint capital of two countries. This change involves a serious and real risk, corresponding to the Israeli vision that Jerusalem is the united and eternal capital of the Jewish state. Accordingly, the “Palestinian capital” could be any one of Jerusalem's neighbourhoods, not necessarily all of East Jerusalem, while Israel retains administrative control of the city.
Another concession is that the draft resolution does not set the borders of June 1967 as a Palestinian right, but as a line of demarcation which opens an Israeli-welcomed door for “land swaps”. This begins with the most fundamental Palestinian demand regarding territory and ends with the Lieberman project of a broad, regional exchange of land and population.
The original Palestinian-Arab League draft spoke of a timeframe to end the Israeli occupation by November 2016, while the new draft talks about a return to negotiations for one year; there is no deadline for ending the occupation. So we return to the comedy of negotiations,without penalties or binding decisions, and what happens when Israel fails to end its occupation. The new draft further talks of negotiations under American and not international auspices. We've tried this before and know what comes of negotiations produced by the United States.
If this is indeed the picture, what is the benefit of going to the UN Security Council and getting a decision from it that will be added to the drawers and archives of the UN, like all the previous resolutions which were not implemented. Such a victory, perhaps complete with celebrations and dancing in the streets, would absolve the Palestinian side from completing our membership in the rest of the international institutions, so as not to anger the United States. The United States, with its intransigence and extremism against our legitimate rights, justifies its lack of consent to Palestinian plans by saying such unilateral steps will strengthen the power of Israel's right-wing.
If the Palestinians and Arabs provide such substantial concessions even prior to debate of the draft resolution submitted to the Security Council, Israel will impose its position concerning Jerusalem and the future in an even more determined manner.
Rasem Obeidat is a Palestinian author - member of the Jerusalem National Committee.